This is a great drive-in movie. If it was sandwiched between "Thunder Road" and "2000 Maniacs (1964)" and you had a couple of bottles of Hi-Fi Peach Wine and some Slim Jims, you would have one more great evening of entertainment. Unfortunately, watching it on TV in your own house with no cheap alcoholic beverages or greasy meat snacks, it would be a huge stretch to call Buckstone County Prison great entertainment.
One of the tag lines for Buckstone County Prison (originally released as Seabo) was "First there was Cool Hand Luke, then Billy Jack, but there has never been anyone like Seabo. " Well, Seabo is a half-breed like Billy Jack and he does go to a chain gang prison like Cool Hand Luke, but that's pretty much where any similarities to those two movies end. And in one very odd part of dialogue in the movie he also claims to be part Mexican!
This movie may or may not be available directly from Earl Owensby Studios. The web page appears not to have been updated since 1998 and they're offering all of their movies in VHS format, which seems a little outdated for 2010. Otherwise, you can sometimes find this title on some "collectors' lists".
I wanted a copy of Buckstone County Prison ( because IMDB showed it as the first movie David Allan Coe (DAC) was in and the poster touted DAC as one of the two co-stars. DAC probably has less than 15 minutes screen time in Buckstone, although his role is integral to the plot. We first get a brief appearance by DAC, playing a character named Reb Stock, when Seabo, who is a bounty hunter, has tracked down a couple of escaped convicts. Seabo has killed one, but is going to take the other convict in alive. However, the farmer, whose daughter was about to get raped by the dead convict (well he was alive at the time), shoots the other convict in the back. Seabo takes the rap for this so the farmer won't have to go to jail, but DAC, also a bounty hunter, spreads the word that Seabo is the one who shot the convict in the back.
DAC's second scene is much better than his first appearance in the movie, even taking into account his terrible fake laugh during this scene. Seabo has left town because of all of the harassment he is getting for being a half-breed and a communist (this has something to do with him getting kicked out of the Marines, which won't be revealed until much later in the movie). Seabo goes to the local whorehouse to get some breakfast (I mean, what else would you go to a whorehouse for?), but DAC is also there and they have a brief confrontation. Seabo decides to leave but is confronted by a "Barney Fife" type deputy who has come to arrest him for some trouble Seabo caused in town. Seabo refuses to go with the deputy and DAC sneaks up behind Seabo and knocks him in the back of the head. The deputy is now able to arrest Seabo, who is sent to trial and sentenced to the chain gang at Buckstone County Prison.
Buckstone's plot really bogs down at this point in the film: The Warden (Don "Red" Barry) blames his son's death on Seabo; the other prisoners don't like the trouble Seabo brings to the camp; of course, there's one prisoner who becomes Seabo's friend and looks out for him. All this was pretty much your standard chain gang prison plot and I was glad when the movie finally moved past this point.
Buckstone picks up the pace when the same night that the whores come to service the prisoners (WHAT KIND OF CHAIN GANG IS THIS!!!) , a few of the "Yankee" prisoners escape.... Guess Yankees ain't up for sex! It seems these prisoners killed some bank tellers during a robbery (and they just got a chain gang sentence!!!) and they're mighty dangerous. They're headed across the mountain or "high country" as it's called in the movie and only two men know that area...Reb Stock (DAC) and Seabo. Since Seabo is in prison, it can only be Reb Stock (who is now decked out in what looks like DAC's own "outlaw country" regalia).
Only one thing to do (at least as far as the plot of this movie is concerned), call the governor and make a deal. If Seabo will capture the men and bring them back alive, then he'll be pardoned. Seabo agrees if he can take his prisoner buddy, plus beat the snot out of one of the guards that has been his nemesis. Reluctantly, Seabo's wishes are granted and he sets out to track down the prisoners and bring them back. Setting the stage for a final showdown between Seabo and DAC....guess who wins....well this movie ain't called Reb Stock!
There's a little bit more to the movie after DAC gets killed, but I won't delve into the plot any further, except to say, that Seabo has already killed one of the escaped prisoners, so it looks like the pardon deal would be off, making the ending inconsistent. Since the ending involves a lot of loud guns being shot, I think we weren't supposed to notice that fact.
Earl Owensby played Seabo (HEY! It's his studio, he can be the star if the wants to) delivering most of his lines through clenched teeth. The only decent actor in the cast was Don "Red" Barry of Red Ryder fame (that's him above right). I also got a kick out of seeing the old B- movie cowboy star, Sunset Carson as The Sheriff (above left). It appeared Sunset was wearing his own clothes throughout the movie, since they all looked like they were custom made for him.
Was it worth watching this whole movie for the three DAC scenes. I would say barely. DAC wasn't bad... I mean I've seen worse actors....and a lot of them were in THIS MOVIE! Since most of the drive-ins are now closed, the best niche this movie could fulfill would be as a drinking game. Every time someone said the name "Seabo", you would have to take a shot. Believe me, you would be laying on the floor way before you got to the halfway point of this movie.